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By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 12th December 2013 at 12:00 pm
We caught up with the #4 band on the TGTF 10 for 2014 readers’ poll, Sheffield’s High Hazels, to ask them some questions about how their year went, what they’re up to this holiday season and what they’re looking forward to in 2014.
Looking back, 2013 was quite an eventful year for High Hazels. What were some of the highlights for you?
Scott Howes (guitar): The single launch at The Harley in October was a particular highlight, it felt like a real achievement releasing a single with a label considering it was under a year since we first took to a stage together. The gig itself was sold out which took us all by surprise. Tramlines festival in the summer was great as well, it was a really busy weekend, we played four gigs in two days but they were all great shows. On the Saturday night of the festival we played at the Shakespeare which was probably our favourite of the weekend.
Do you plan to take any time off for the holidays? Will any of you be doing anything special?
James Leesley (vocals / guitar): I think we’ll be spending a few days with friends and family for a couple of days for the traditional festivities, but we’ve got our Christmas show bang in the middle of all the celebrations so it really will be just a couple of days off! Mind you, I get a bit lost after a day or two without the guitar so I suppose it’s worked out alright.
You have a Christmas show planned at home at the Shakespeare on 28 December. It seems such a wonderfully English thing to have a hometown show, surrounded by the people that have stood by you since the beginning. Anything special / Christmassy planned for it (Speaking of the Shakespeare, our editor was wondering if the live bits of ‘Hearts Are Breaking’ were filmed there?)
Anthony Barlow (drums): Shakespeare’s has a very traditional English pub feel about it, which is one of the main reasons why we thought it would be a great venue at this time of the year. It’s a charming pub with loads of real ales to drink! It’s one of our favourite watering holes and we spend most Saturday nights in there. Our favourite DJs King Bee also host their superb club night in there every month, and they’ll be spinning some tunes into the early hours after we play on the 28th. We also played there as part of Tramlines Festival in the summer, and it turned out to be our favourite show so far, the atmosphere was great. We try and space our hometown shows out as much as possible so we really can’t wait to play now.
The ‘Hearts Are Breaking’ video was filmed there, well spotted! We needed a location that blended in with the rest of the video which was made up of home footage, filmed in the ’80s.
What’s your favourite holiday song, and why is it special to you?
James: ‘The Christmas Song’ by Nat King Cole. It’s major seventh heaven and captures the season perfectly.
What can we expect to see/hear from you in 2014? Possibly an album release?
Anthony: There will be a couple of significant releases in 2014, we can’t really say much more than that yet. But we are ridiculously excited about them. This past 12 months have set us up nicely for 2014. It should be a very interesting year and we can’t wait to get stuck into it.
What releases from other artists are you looking forward to in 2014?
Anthony: Hamilton Leithauser from The Walkmen is working on a solo album, that should be interesting. He’s a great singer and writer and he’s drafted in some friends to work on the album with him including members of Fleet Foxes and The Shins. Sounds like it has some pretty good ingredients to me! I’m also looking forward to hearing Broken Bells‘ new album, their first effort was great and I’m sure it’ll be just as good this time around.
Cheers lads for answering our questions!
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 11th December 2013 at 12:00 pm
Young Kato have had one hell of a year, and we’re not just saying that because they placed at lucky number #7 on the TGTF 10 for 2014 readers’ poll. No, they’ve been very busy lads, so busy that I was very pleased I was able to pin down leader singer Tommy Wright during this busy time and long enough to answer some questions for me. I find out more about their hometown of Cheltenham and how they got started, their connection to Made in Chelsea and what I’m allowed to know about their debut album.
We don’t know a whole lot about you guys. Can you tell us how you all got together? Did you know each other from living in the same town, going to the same school, etc.?
Young Kato was formed in late 2011. We were brought together through the step brother link in the band – Sam (drums) and Jack (lead guitar). I went to school with Jack and Joe Green (guitar), and Sam went to school with Harry (keyboards) and Joe Lever (bass). We all played instruments and had a huge passion for music, so it made sense to get together and make some noise.
Tell us about Cheltenham. We don’t know much about it besides it having a racecourse where Wychwood Festival takes place at the start of the summer.
Cheltenham is known for a few things and music tends to not be one of them. There’s no real scene in Cheltenham so there’s no real specific sound bellowing out of here, but if you look hard enough there are some real gems hidden away across the musical spectrum.
A lot has been made about how young you guys are. What are the pros and cons of being so young in this business? (In comparison, I’m old-ish…)
I think there are only positives for us being as young as we are doing what we are doing. Our sound is youthful and vibrant and we make the most of gigs, etc., enjoying the experiences as you’d expect of six 19/20 year old lads. However, behind all of that, we are very aware of what is going on around us and there’s no naivety in this band. We know what we want and we’re making sure that our debut album sounds perfect along with everything that goes alongside it visually.
I saw you live, performing Saturday night at this year’s Great Escape, directly before the 1975. What were your highlights of the 2013 festival season? What is the crowd reaction these days when Young Kato takes the stage?
The Great Escape festival was a cool experience for us, it was our second gig of the day and we definitely felt we had won the crowd over. It was a pleasure to share the stage with 3 great bands: China Rats, The 1975 and Tribes.
Over the summer we played a few amazing ‘small’ festivals: Barn on the Farm, Y Not and X&Y to name a few. We hope to play every festival possible in 2014. We are always perfecting our live craft whenever we can, making sure that whoever is watching can appreciate every aspect of our music. One of the best reviews we ever had appeared recently after our latest tour in November, where the reviewer came along expecting to hate us (because of the Made In Chelsea connection). As the review read on, he said he was completely and utterly was won over. Job done.
One of the most exciting things to happen to you this year was to be featured on the E4 reality drama Made in Chelsea, and then you played a sold-out show related to the franchise. Tell us about this?
We got a call from the Music producer of the show asking if we’d be up for being on the show. We’d already been played in the background a bit on Made in Chelsea and it had been giving us such great exposure. The show prides itself on showcasing the best new music out there, alongside some incredible established bands. Throughout the rest of 2013, we have been building the foundations of an amazing fan base, touring in the summer and releasing more music. We were asked to headline a gig that would be streamed on 4OD called ‘Played in Chelsea’ for the show. The venue was called ‘Under the Bridge’ at Chelsea FC’s ground. I’ve been a huge Chelsea fan all my life, so it was a great excuse to get to the bridge.
So word on the street is your debut album will be released on BMG/Chrysalis next year. What can you tell us about it? Have you decided on a title yet?
The album is completely finished and now we’re focusing on the artwork and everything to go round it. The album is sounding absolutely perfect and the producer we worked with – Dan Grech (Tom Odell, The Vaccines, Lana Del Rey) – really has bought the best out of us. Unlike previous recording sessions, we didn’t walk into the studio and record what we played live. We completely stripped every song apart and put a lot of thought into it all, therefore allowing all 11 songs to flourish. The album isn’t a concept album, neither a vehicle for singles; to us, it’s just 11 strong songs showcasing what we do. We have the title name in the bag… I just can’t tell you yet.
You’ve got an epic, epic hairdo. What is your secret for such good-looking hair? (See photo above for proof.)
Thanks, haha. There is nothing special that I do to create this. I literally wake up, shower and go. There’s the obligatory trip to the barbers to get grade 0.5 on the sides once a month as well.
What exciting things are you all up to this holiday season?
As a band we hate being quiet, we want to be kept busy every second of the day so we’ve scheduled some sessions over the Christmas period. One session in particular we’re performing is a weird version of’ Drink Dance Play’, with 4 old school Casio keyboards for SBTV. We’ve also just released a cover we made for a compilation album. We recorded the cover in 1 day, running back and forth between the two studios in Shoreditch. We chose to cover Boy Meets Girls’ ‘Waiting for a Star to Fall’, as the criteria was ‘Eighties love’. It’s a complete ’80s guilty pleasure, go check it out. Other than this, we will have to take it easy before the New Year kicks in, maybe get a bit of writing in and start a bit for the next album. 2013 has been amazing for us and we’re very grateful, but we’re not stopping now.
Thanks very much to Tommy for answering all my questions! And stay tuned, folks, we have his answers to the TGTF Quickfire Questions for you tomorrow.
Whimsical indie rock four-piece Sky Larkin have reinvigorated themselves with a crisp autumnal LP in ‘Motto’ (reviewed by Carrie here), their third studio album out now on Wichita Recordings. Following a 3-year hiatus, a line-up change and what sounds like a subtle shift in perspective, drummer Nestor Matthews stepped in to talk us through their latest release after a balmy reunion with fans at London’s Lexington in September.
Sky Larkin has some new blood, with Sam Pryor and Nile Marr coming in on bass and guitar, respectively. How would you sum up their influence on your latest album, ‘Motto’?
It was fascinating to watch the songs develop and grow as they travelled through new ears and new fingers. Their interpretations and responses to the noises and established ideas that Katie and I might have been used to as Sky Larkin made us, in turn, open to new ideas and avenues that we might have never thought to explore were it not for them.
Do you think that the time you’ve had to reflect during your three years apart has changed the feel of the album?
I’d be worried if the time hadn’t changed us in some way. I think we took the opportunity to hone what we wanted to do and be, so that when it came to making the record, there was an unstated sense of unified direction and velocity. We might not have been fully clear on what we wanted the record to be, in the early stages at least, but we had the time to work out how we wanted to get there.
‘Loom’ (previous Video of the Moment here) has ‘irritating personality trait’ written all over it. Who’s got the worst habit in the band?
I thought I’d managed to conquer it, but towards the end of our recent UK tour I found myself tapping my forehead with a drumstick on stage again. It might not be particularly annoying for anyone else, but the headache and angry red forehead that I woke up to the mornings after certainly made me pretty irritable/irritating!
You came from a special moment in the history of the Leeds music scene, alongside the likes of Pulled Apart by Horses and Grammatics. What do you think is unique about the provincial approach?
I think it’s very much to do with the melting pot that was, and still is, Hyde Park. Students from every university and college in the city live there in back to back houses, with ideas and sounds and friendships constantly osmos-ing between the walls. Then there is, of course, The Brudenell Social Club, where those sounds and ideas can be put into practice in front of an enthusiastic and welcoming community of like-minded creators and collaborators. I don’t think it’s necessarily a special moment in the history of Leeds, but just a special place, as it’s still happening right now!
What is it about Seattle as a recording location that keeps pulling you back?
When we first ventured across the pond our plan was that in a new and scary place we would have to focus on working on the record, we wouldn’t be able to pop home for a cup of tea or stay out that little bit too late with friends the night before. But then as we got to know our producer John Goodmanson and he got to know us and as we gradually began to remember our way round it became almost the opposite of that: a city that we know and love in which we can work with a great producer who knows how to get to what we’re after and, most importantly, where to find the best coffee and doughnuts.
We know Sky Larkin are big festival lovers. What would be your perfect summer itinerary for 2014?
I’ve never managed to make it to an All Tomorrow’s Parties before, and now it looks like perhaps I never will, so ATP would definitely be a top, although extremely optimistic, priority for 2014. I’d like to make it to Liverpool PsychFest next year too, apparently this year was infinitely greater than last year, and last year was amazing!
I also completely missed David Byrne and St. Vincent’s Love This Giant European tour, which sounded absolutely incredible. David singing St. Vincent songs, Annie singing Talking Heads songs, horn sections and sporadic choreography, all the ingredients for a great festival show, right?! So, if they could be added to every bill for summer festivals that’d be great, thanks.
Oh and maybe The Knife for later on at night too, please!
What is the motto that matters most?
TOUR NOT BORE
TGTF would like to thank Nestor for taking time out of the band’s hectic tour schedule to answer our questions and Kate for sorting this for us. Cheers!
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 3rd October 2013 at 11:00 am
Sheffield’s High Hazels will be having a special single launch party in their hometown tomorrow night (Friday the 4th of October) at the Harley, to celebrate the release of the most excellent ‘Hearts Are Breaking’ (reviewed here; Video of the Moment here) on their new label Heist or Hit Records. In honour of the momentous occasion, we wanted to have a chat with the lads ahead of their big night. Can’t make it to Sheffield on Friday? No worries, they’re also doing a show in London Sebright Arms on Saturday the 19th of October. But hold that thought for now. Take it away, frontman James Leesley of High Hazels…
Hello High Hazels! Where do we find you today? And what are you up to?
Having a brew before practice tonight.
So I’ve read on an early press release “with a togetherness that only blooms from brotherhood and childhood friendship” that you are made up of brothers and schoolmates. Tell us how the band got together and how long you’ve been playing together as a group. Did you all meet in Sheffield?
Yeah! James, Anthony and Scott met at primary school aged around 7 or 8, so we knew each other all through school and growing up really. Musically, it wasn’t until late secondary school where we bonded through the mutual love for music.
We bobbed along in various other pre-High Hazels bands (only really the name changing – not the members), but it was only when Paul (brother of Anthony) joined that we really decided to take it a bit more serious and see what we could do.
…And here we are, approximately 10 months on, with High Hazels.
Did it gel from a share love of a band / bands, a style of music? Or was it something not even music related that brought you together? (Footy? I’m shooting in the dark here!)
Again, we’ve always known one another and been in one another pockets, so it was quite inevitable that if a band was going to be formed then we’d be the ones in it! It did at the start, and still does, have a gang and brotherly feel musically and socially. I think it bonds us even more when we can relax and do other things without the guitars in our hands – keeps a nice balance!
You’ve named yourself (or so I guessed) after a park east of Sheffield city centre. Why did you choose this location for your name? Is it prominent in High Hazels’ history? (When I visited the city in the spring, I was rather taken by the beauty of the botanical gardens.)
Yeah, I’m 94% sure Sheffield has the best tree to person ratio in the UK. As for our name, High Hazels Park is really close to where we grew up in Sheffield and, put with our music, we felt it suited us quite well!
We still like it now, so I think that’s a good sign.
Your sound recalls, at least for me, the ’50s and ’60s, when music was made more simply and there was more emphasis on songwriting and the musicianship. Do you think the High Hazels sound comes from your various musical inspirations? If yes, tell us about them and if they come from this era. If not, tell us how you arrived at what we’re hearing as the High Hazels sound today.
In terms of sound, we really love the simplicity and beauty of some of the ‘50s and ‘60s music, yeah, especially the guitar sounds. We have a real focus on making sure the melodies in our songs are as strong as we can make them; this, along with some nice chords, is usually our starting point and then the sound develops from there. There are a lot of current bands that we are really into and I think naturally you look at what inspired them and then what inspired them and so on…so we get quite a wide range of inspiration from all eras.
I suppose our sound has a certain dreaminess to it which we all like, and I think that comes from the way we write in terms of chords but we do have different individual inspirations that sort of melt together and forge our sound.
You’re a pretty new band, so this might not have happened yet…have you been compared to other bands and if yes, which ones? Did you agree with the comparisons? And if you had to choose them yourself, which bands would you use as comparisons to explain to someone who’s not heard of you yet?
I think it’s always something we take quite light-heartedly. There’s been one or two early ‘80s guitar bands that we’ve been compared to, Smiths, Treebound Story, etc. which I think is nice, but on a whole we let people decide for themselves instead of giving them any boundaries.
A couple weeks ago now, you signed with London indie label Heist or Hit Records. Tell us about that process and the emotions you went through surrounding that.
Obviously it was a great achievement for us and real step forward!
We had hoped to do a 7” limited edition single as our first official release and when Heist came along it seemed a perfect start for us. They’ve been excellent so far in terms of their press and work ethic, so we are really pleased.
What song(s) of those that you have written and the public have heard are you the proudest of, and why?
I suppose each song has its own place for us and we’re equally proud of them – sometimes songs don’t always stay with us, usually if ,as a band, we aren’t quite feeling that initial spark from a song then we try to let it go, so that’s our cut-off point so to speak. But if in the right context, we’re very proud of each one.
‘French Rue’ in particular sounds like a wistful remembrance of both a former relationship and of the beauty of France reflected in that relationship. (Or maybe I have it all wrong?) Tell us about this song. Also, is the lyric writing in High Hazels done as a group effort or just by one of you?
The lyrics are either done by James or Paul and are often a mixture of the two. You’re pretty close on ‘French Rue’! [I just mentally high-fived myself. – Ed.] This is an example of the mixture of writing; James wrote the chorus which had a metaphor that seemed to fit perfectly with the verse lyrics Paul had been working on. This was about a lost love and being left behind while the other experienced a new life in France, with exciting surroundings and meeting new people. [And] the word “rue” being used as a double meaning in English as regret and in French street.
But everybody has very big hand in the writing of each song, whether that be melodies, music or arrangements – all are as important as one another.
You recorded some session tracks with Sheffield’s Exposed magazine. That must have been a very cool thing to do, especially since at the time you hadn’t been signed yet. I’ve seen several bands from the city take part in similar features with the magazine.
Yeah, it’s a really good idea and good thing to do! Gives bands a good chance to get some live footage at an early stage. We enjoyed ours.
It seems like Sheffield is a very nurturing, supportive place to be if you’re in a band. Agree/disagree? Tell us. Would you say that being from Sheffield has affected the way you sound and/or approach music?
Being from Sheffield, it’s hard to imagine growing up anywhere else and it definitely has that ‘home’ feel to it for us. Musically, I think it is and always will be a great place for bands and music. I think when we write songs, subconsciously the surroundings seem to seep into the music that you don’t really control if you know what I mean? It’s hard to explain but there’s an optimism around Sheffield even when it’s pretty bleak! I think that comes through in our sound – quite melancholic but also joyous.
What is the most amazing thing you’ve done so far as a band?
We’ve had plenty of really great moments so far, with the label and live shows, but personally our first Steve Lamacq [BBC] 6music play of our ‘French Rue’ demo really took me by surprise and got the ball rolling for us as a band, so probably that.
If you could look into a crystal ball, where would you like to see yourselves in 5 years’ time?
Polishing a Mercury Prize Award would be quite nice…
Many thanks to James for doing this interview with us and also a big thanks to Penny for sorting this for us here at TGTF.
Before playing an opening set for City and Colour in Washington, Cheryl had a chance to chat to the lovely Lucy Rose at the 9:30 Club about blending tea, tow trucks and what’s up next for this rising star.
Over the summer you worked really hard on getting your album released in the U.S., and it’s out today, so congratulations!
Thank you very much.
Can you tell me a little about what it was like touring America when the album wasn’t out yet, it must have been tough. Were people responding to the music when they didn’t have anything to go off of?
I think it was difficult mainly because I didn’t even know if it ever would happen so when people were asking about it, and you’re touring, especially when I was with Bombay Bicycle Club. Part of me was like, I just have to do it, I have to get it out. If I made a big enough deal about it then it would happen, touch wood. It has been one of those things that I’ve had to be insistent about with my label. It’s really complicated in ways. But now, knowing it’s out is nice to be able to play my show and people can go find it if they want it.
Earlier you were here supporting your good friends Bombay Bicycle Club but now you are on tour with City and Colour, how does it feel different since it’s not with your mates from home?
This is really different because I was singing with Bombay Bicycle Club and they were nice enough to let me sing. Because I was singing with them so much, I wasn’t concentrating on my own music as much as I wanted to and they knew that. So they let me be first on with a 20-minute acoustic of my own. Which was super kind of them. But this time it’s different. Before it was almost like my friends doing me a favour, helping each other out. And now I’ve got the whole band and I’ve been asked by people I’ve never know before. You sort of feel a bit like”, oh, an actual real respected band wants us to come and play music with them” and they don’t even know us. I mean, they must like the music. We’ve been really lucky with supports. We just did a UK tour with Counting Crows. That was just mental when you get an email from the Counting Crows to support them. How are we even on their radar?
Have you noticed any significant difference between American audiences and those back at home? How they react to your work?
Well, so far we’ve only done two shows with City and Colour and the audience has blown our mind, they seem to be so much more vocal. The UK crowds, well normally at festivals they’re drunk and merry and in the mood. Whereas we were going on super early and I don’t think there was too much time to get drunk. We played Northampton (Massachusetts) and at the end of our 45 minutes we just thought hopefully some people would like it and we had a full standing ovation at the end of our set. Everyone’s so ridiculously nice, it was very important to us to have people openly supportive of us.
Seems like you had a really good festival season, can you tell me a highlight?
Festival season is so weird because you’ve got the main ones everyone’s heard of like Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds, all those big ones. But most bands doing festivals, like us, we did festivals every weekend for 3 months so we were doing a lot of obscure smaller festivals with just few thousand people each. So it’s really different. Every weekend, every day. You can do a small one on Friday and then suddenly you’re at a ridiculous one. The highlight for us has to be Glastonbury. It was so early on in the festival season and there were so many bands playing at Glastonbury. We knew we were up against massive, massive bands playing at the same time as us. And we had a full tent – it was amazing. Not only did we play Glastonbury, but we got a full tent.
Any lowlights to admit to?
Yes, don’t let me re-live that day! We were playing a weird festival, headlining it. A tiny one called Lemonfest. Tiny, as you can tell if we were headlining it. It was just on a Friday and we were in a terrible van and our van broke down on the way to the festival. It wasn’t a completely bad festival, but to sum up, their headliner turned up on the back of a tow truck with huge yellow lights being towed right onto the field. It was so ridiculous that we just decided to enjoy the laugh.
What’s the genesis of your tea? How did it come about, why tea? How well does it sell?
I didn’t bring any to America. But in the UK, obviously, it sells really well. Some people come up to me and say “Where’s your tea?” I’ll get tweets that say, “I’m on my last teabag and I’m freaking out, where can I get some?”
If you had brought some, I would have bought it.
Really? That’s what I’m talking about, it’s only £5. It’s pretty cheap for a tin and it’s really good tea. It’s a mixture between English Breakfast and Earl Grey, I don’t know why no one else has done it. It came about because I was obsessed with having this blend.
So developed the mixture yourself?
Yeah, but there is no genius there, I was putting one of each in a teapot. But I went to a tea factory and asked. “could you just get the leaves and blend it for me?” So they did that in this tiny tea factory, I bought the tins, and got the stickers made for me. And I had to assemble these things on my own for hours and hours on end. I thought I haven’t got any CDs, I haven’t actually recorded anything yet, but I’ve got tea. So I took the tea to these tiny gigs. I even got a tweet the other day that said, “I’m not really into your music, but your tea is incredible”.
Do the songs that you are working on now have a different flavour now that you’ve got some renown going, probably because you are writing on the road? What do you think the difference will be?
When I was writing the first songs, they were just written in my bedroom, just me and an acoustic guitar, really not knowing if anyone would ever hear them. I also had another job at the time. When you get signed, you can quit your job and just go into music 100%. Until then that’s something you can’t do. Since then, I have been playing music every day and learning more every day. It’s built my confidence, I think. I think I feel a bit braver to try different things than I would when it was just me with my acoustic guitar. The new songs are going to be a bit louder, a little rockier than the first album. Yeah, much rockier than the first album. It’s due to the confidence. I think the first album was my heart, and hopefully this next one will be my development.
Are you still writing everything on your own, or with members of the band?
I don’t like writing with anyone else. Just because….
Are you a bit of a control freak?
I’m a huge control freak! I like getting people’s ideas, I like to ask them for advice, what do you think of this song. But there are things I like. That’s the thing with music, there is no wrong or right so if one person thinks the bass should go up to an A instead of C, that’s not necessarily better, it’s just different. So I think it’s important to stick with what feels right for you.
Who are your musical influences?
They are changing all the time. The first albums I was like a sponge taking in were Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Joan Armatrading, Carole King. Discovering all this stuff. I had just moved away from home, stopped listening to the radio and what was current and went into the past. That was massively influential to me. Now it’s looped on a full 360 and I’m listening to a lot of new indie stuff like the Maccabees, the Foals’ new album, Arctic Monkeys’ new one. So my influences aren’t just from one place. My collection has grown of what I listen to and what I can use.
Who would you like to duet with if you could sing with another woman?
There are so many brilliant women artists out there. I love Feist. Feist is like my hero. I would hate to meet her though because then she would see how incessantly uncool I am. She’s awesome.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year when you get back home? More touring, in the studio?
I am flying back just in time for my sister’s wedding! And then hopefully jumping straight into the studio. I’d like to get as much of the next album done before Christmas as possible.
Thanks for talking with me and good luck with the rest of the tour.
Brilliant, thank you.
Thank you to Lucy for taking the time to chat with us, and thank you also to Victoria for helping sort this interview.
On the most overcast afternoon of Reading 2013, as the sweaty mugginess drips off my nose mixing with the coagulated Gaymers ‘tache forming on my upper lip, I had the fortune of a brief chin-wag with Canadian alt-rockers Half Moon Run. At a rickety picnic table in the mysterious (it wasn’t, but I wish it was) guest area of Reading Festival I parked my bum opposite from two of the band, Devon Portielje and Dylan Phillips. Immediately they struck me as the uber-cool their music suggests they are, shades firmly wrapped around their heads, trendy vests donned – staring back at them they had me: a distended mess suffering from a lack of sleep, the effects of the night before and a serious lack of vitamin C.
Their reaction was to be polite and amicable as anything, a sign of true gents from across the pond if I’ve ever seen it. But I expected a kind of humility from this band, because of where they hail from – Canada, kind of like the USA’s less shouty and brash brother. [I’m trying not to take offence at this. – Ed.] Half Moon Run were typically the British’s view of Canadians, easy going and cool as finely diced cucumbers.
Did they seem out of their depth for a band making their bow at Reading, in their show on the Festival Republic Stage? The crowd was *almost* as packed out as it was for Radio 1 darlings the 1975, which is testament to just how well thought of Half Moon Run are in the UK. Whether that was because one of their songs has been used in the trailer for Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, which looks wicked cool, or for the fact that their inimitable brand of warbling harmonies has struck a chord with UK audiences already, it doesn’t matter. How do they feel about the reception they’ve received in the UK? Devon thinks it’s just great: “I think the audience in the UK have really warmed to us, which is nice as we were a bit nervous coming over here.”
What nerves, as they cruised through their eight song set and a triumphant version of ‘Call Me in the Afternoon’ which had every lyric shouted back from the crowd, to their immense finale of ‘She Wants To Know’. “We’ve been excited about Reading since we knew we were booked for it, as we know how special it is in the UK, and worldwide, it has a great reputation. I mean, doing Glastonbury was obviously very special too, because well IT’S GLASTONBURY! But to play Reading Festival so early on in our career is really, really special.”
After a recent tour with bonafide stars and now (somehow) Glastonbury headliners Mumford and Sons, this Canadian four-piece look set upon perhaps not the same path as the British country rockers, but one which could lead them on the same trajectory, perhaps at a more manageable rate? The boys certainly have their feet on the ground: “Touring with Mumford and Sons was one hell of an experience, coming out for the encore almost every night with them and playing in front of huge crowds like they do. Can we see ourselves doing something like that, one step at a time, please?”